Things are getting nailed down for the big move. The biggest nail is that we’re buying a house. We close in a little less than a month, and frankly the whole thing is stressful and terrifying. Sometimes I look at our bank account and I just want to throw up. Getting so close to closing, though, I can start putting it a bit more out of my head, and start concentrating on everyone’s favorite part of moving: packing. We’ve got a stack of whiskey and vodka boxes in the living room, unfortunately entirely without their original contents, and I am supposed to be filling them with all the things that we don’t need right this minute, and probably won’t need in the next six weeks. I hate this guessing game. Mr. Furious packed up the dvds the other day. I stopped him from packing away Mini’s movies, because even though she’s mostly content with Netflix or no tv at all and just playing LEGOs and dollies, you never know. I will admit it was tempting to let him pack up Frozen so that I could be all “Welp! Daddy packed it! Sorry, you can watch it again after we’ve moved.” She’s got the whole thing memorized, and so now our viewings are in French or Spanish so she can start learning it in those languages. Anyway, so the kid dvds are the only ones not packed. This is unfortunate because we just started watching The Middleman again. (Cancelled before its time and very underrated except for the part where critics loved it and just.. argh. Shut up, ABC Family, you made a Fox level bad decision.)
Where was I? Oh right. So I’m supposed to try and figure out what we don’t need in the next six weeks. We’ve moved a lot. For a while it was once a year. We moved to Minnesota from southern-most Texas and back again. I know the actual how-to of moving. I know that I can pack away everything but my laptop and like two weeks of clothing and I’ll be fine. I also know that the day after I pack anything, I will need that thing desperately. Pack up these books I haven’t read or thought of in forever? Definitely need to reference them for a thing I’m writing. Pack up the muffin tins that have been used exactly once in the last six months? Oh look at this craft that would be perfect for entertaining Mini, and all it calls for is muffin tins! You can see my problem. I think the next time Mr. Furious runs by the liquor store to pick up boxes I’m going to tell him to make sure one of them is full.
The PhD in my blog title is a bit of nom de plume, in actuality I have my MFA in creative writing. (Moxie Furious, MFA as a derby name just did not flow as well.) As a graduate student, and in the writing workshops I took as an undergrad, I was strictly forbidden from writing “genre” fiction for class. Of course, in grad school, I did anyway. I was accepted to my program based on a writing sample that was the first chapter of a book about a young superhero named Firefly. Very genre. Not only genre, but it could be classified as YA (young adult) fiction. Oooooohhhh scary stuff for Literary folks. I had mainstream fiction I could have applied with, but I figured if I was going to commit to three years of busting my butt in workshops, they’d better know who they were accepting. Professors didn’t want to read genre in class because they felt they couldn’t comment on it, because there are conventions and rules that must be followed for genre. Nobody could tell me what they were, because they don’t read that stuff, but by god those rules exist. And anyway scifi/fantasy is junk stuff, and they were looking to turn out capital L Literature students. And of course, scifi/fantasy can never be Literature. Which… bullshit. And I’ve gone round and round on this so many times. But I can’t sleep, so I’m giving it one more go.
I got my BA in English from a fairly highly ranked school. And by fairly highly ranked, I mean number one in our area for a lot of years. I mean we’re sort of a big deal. And really, who cares, but obviously this stuff is important because the big program names do get thrown around. (It’s Trinity University in San Antonio. Go Tigers!) So, like I said, our fiction professor (who has since retired) banned genre writing in our undergrad workshops. But at the time I didn’t have a problem with it. His reasoning was that we were just starting out as writers, and he wanted us to have a feel for developing plot and character and all that without the added stress of world building. No judgement calls on validity or anything, just we were undergrads. (Though you did have to be a junior to get into Intro to Fiction Writing, and he was very very strict on that.) And honestly, I still don’t have a problem with it. We were learning a lot, not just about writing, but about the critiquing process. (Which getting to grad school and having to spend the first couple of months waiting on people learning to write effective critiques was
fairly extremely infuriating.) And world building is hard, man. So sure, for undergrad just starting out baby writers, fine. But I would never say our department didn’t value genre writing. We had courses entirely devoted to science fiction and to spy novels. The German literature in translation I took focused on fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm to Hesse. The only bits of Intro to Comparative Literature that really stuck with me were reading Hoffman and The Cyborg Manifesto. My senior seminar was entirely on Tolkien. That’s us. Obviously valuing genre as Literature. What about other schools?
Everyone wants to be the Harvard of their bit of the country, so what’s Harvard up to? Oh, just offering a course called Epic: From Homer to Star Wars. Okay. Oh and a Science Fiction course. And what are they doing in there? “High points, innovations, and explorations in science fiction as a prose genre from the late 19th century to the present: likely readings include Mark Twain, H. G. Wells, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Robert A. Heinlein, James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon), Octavia Butler, William Gibson, Cordwainer Smith, Richard Powers, and more.” Hmmm those are some capital L Literature looking names in there. Oh and a freshman seminar on Theatre and Magic “Both the pleasure of theatricality and its dangers have long been linked to ideas about the power of the magus, the witch, the wizard, and the arts of illusion. This seminar will focus on two key historical moments: the English Renaissance and the contemporary theater. We will read plays like Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist, and several works of Shakespeare, together with a consideration of magic on the modern stage. The seminar will culminate in a discussion of an upcoming version of The Tempest at the American Repertory Theater, directed by Aaron Posner and by Teller, the magician and illusionist.” Why… that sounds an awful lot like they’re looking at early fantasy works. Interesting.
Well, Harvard isn’t everything, right? I mean sure they consider genre writing to be Literature. But pfft, Harvard. Let’s see what Yale is up to. Oh, offering a science fiction course this semester. “A survey of twentieth- and twenty-first-century science fiction, focusing on how changing technologies produce new ideas about human identity. Emphasis on innovations in science and engineering as well as new forms of social, political, and economic life. Works by Robert Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, Ursula Le Guin, and William Gibson.” Okay, well that’s just Yale. PFFFT I say. East coast shenanigans is what this is. Stanford is where it’s at! With their course Graphic Novels Asian American Style “Though genre fiction has occasionally been castigated as a lowbrow form only pandering to the uneducated masses, this course reveals how Asian American writers transform the genre to speak to issues of racial difference and social inequality.” Surely an outlier, oh they also offer a course called Detective Fiction; and then also Contemporary Science Fictions and Technofutures; and The Graphic Novel. Stanford, obviously founded by hippies and weirdos and shouldn’t matter, am I right?
What this is is just America trying to destroy literature by allowing students to study genre. They’d never stand for this at Oxford. Except I have on my shelf the Oxford Book of Science Fiction. Oops. So Tolkien and CS Lewis taught there. What do foreigners know anyway?
We’re talking about writing Literature. The good stuff. Writing the important stuff, not studying it. I mean it’s not like Neil Gaiman is going to be teaching at Bard starting this fall. … Well Patrick Rothfuss isn’t going to be allowed in a classroom, surely… at University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. Welp. Okay. Whatever, Wisconsin. Iowa’s what’s important. The be all, end all Iowa Workshop. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. taught there, you know. Of course, the only time I’ve had Vonnegut on a syllabus was in the scifi class I took, but you know, whatever. That’s not relevant, I’m sure. And neither is the course at University of Iowa titled “Victorian Fantasies: From Fairy Tales to Science Fiction” or this creative writing course “Writing and Reading Science Fiction.” Surely they were hacked or someone held hostage or something. Iowa would never do something so low as to consort with genre. Corn addled hooligans. Let’s turn to the system of my own MFA alma mater, University of Texas. Specifically, let’s talk about UT Austin with their fancy New Writers Project. Surely they would never allow themselves to infiltrated by dirty genre writers… except for Peter LaSalle, whose work has in fact appeared in Best American Fantasy.
Weird. It’s almost like science fiction and fantasy, along with the other “genres” which get looked down on so often, are valid areas of Literary study. Like perhaps they are worth looking at by people who may not be into that sort of thing normally. Just like I am not into Early American Literature, but I sure did have to study it. Huh. Like maybe if we read things outside of our comfort levels we are enriched by them, whether we actually like them or not.
All of the above aside, I am so incredibly frustrated by this attitude within the academic creative writing community that the answer to bad scifi/fantasy writing is not to make it better, but to discourage students from writing it. And often that results in those students being discouraged from writing anything at all. I edit a literary magazine that focuses on scifi, fantasy, and all the other dirty words you can’t use in writing workshops. I am invested in these writers writing well. And I have gotten some writing that is, from a technical standpoint, a damn sight better than a lot of mainstream fiction that I saw in graduate workshops. (Don’t get me wrong, I was in with some very incredibly talented writers whose names you will know here pretty soon, if you don’t already, but not everyone was a star.) We genre writers have made our own spaces with Clarion and the like, but dammit! These are good, important stories, and I am so sick of everyone looking down on us while simultaneously refusing to learn about what we’re doing.
Well I am just the worst at this.
Mini Furious is now enrolled at a local Montessori school, and loving it to pieces. It’s a great environment for her and I’m a Montessori convert for life. Mr. Furious has accepted a new position for the fall and will be Assistant Professor/Technical Director Furious at a smallish school in a very small town in West Texas. We are super excited, if a little apprehensive. Come spring break we’re taking a trip out there to start scouting places to live and so I can at least see this town once before we move there. Exciting and terrifying. It’s a very small place. The nearest Wal-Mart is an hour away. The nearest Target is two. Unless some locally owned store surprises me, there is no place in town that carries my size in clothing. As someone who relies heavily on retail therapy, this move is going to be interesting. There is a roller derby team in the area, though. So there’s always that.
Whoops. The problem with blogging about life is that sometimes you get so busy with the life part that you forget the blogging part. Also, I do have a tumblr and a facebook, and so I post bits and pieces there on the fly without thinking of putting them here.
Where to start. Mini Furious started school and loved it. But it wasn’t challenging enough. She reads on a first to second grade level. Her math skills are, I would guess, early first grade. She was stuck learning her alphabet and numbers. We talked to her teacher a couple of times, but nothing seemed to be changing. She was bored and kept asking for harder homework. She came home with a bracelet with a cross on it from her teacher’s incentive box. Then she came home and told us we should thank God and Jesus every day. This is ostensibly a public school, and we aren’t christian. This did not go over well with us. Then came several days in a row of multiple accidents, which we finally found out were a byproduct of a combo of bladder infection and not being encouraged/allowed to go to the bathroom often enough. So we asked if she would like to be homeschooled for the rest of the semester. She didn’t even hesitate when she said yes. She’ll be starting up with a Montessori school in the spring, though. She’s already spent a day there as part of the application process, and is very excited about it. I think that it will be an envrironment much more conducive to her learning style and natural uhm… leadership skills. She is excited about taking her lunch to school every day, rather than eating in a cafeteria.
Mr. Furious is digging his job, though he’s interviewed for another that will take him from Manager Furious to Professor Furious. It’s in a fairly isolated place, though. He’s applied for another in our favorite city, but it will probably be a while until he hears from them. Either way, we are hoping to be moving again in July/August.
I’ve been job hunting, and finally have landed a freelance job creating web content. It’s still in the paperwork phase, but I should be starting properly later this week. This will be interesting, since a chunk of my in-laws will be in town for Thanksgiving. After my in-laws leave, I have a few days before my mom comes into town for an extended visit. In light of all of this, I am cleaning the house like a madperson and finally getting the last bits of unpacking done. And I’m trying to get into a regular blogging groove. This year is going out with a bang, and I feel like next year has some rather large things in store. I definitely have some large things planned for next year, at any rate.
What a day/week/month. A month ago we were frantically packing the last of our belongings and figuring out how to dispose of those things that weren’t making the move to Texas with us. My husband accepted a job back n our hometown. The time we had to pack was roughly two weeks. Oh man oh man. Cleaning, packing, disposing, trying to find a place to live… it was madness. Finally, Mom flew in to Minnesota, and the next day we loaded up a moving truck and began the three day drive back to South Texas. Also madness. A 16 foot truck crammed within an inch of its life, our little hatchback, also crammed within an inch of its life. Three adults, one five year-old, two cats, and a goldfish. Mr. Furious was doubtful of the goldfish’s odds of surviving, but happily I was right and she was fine. Anxiety Cat, however, lost about half of his fur to the stress. It was so bad I broke down and took him to the vet and spent money we really didn’t have to be assured that it wasn’t something more serious. Lumpy Cat cried whenever I wasn’t in the same room as him for about a week. They’re both fine now.
Mini Furious was meant to go to an elementary school that I am not impressed with. So I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to get that fixed, and have been met with varying levels of incompetency and laziness. Finally, after a bit of wrangling today, she is set to attend probably the best school in the district. There were also mental gymnastics involved as I was repeatedly told there are no gifted and talented kindergarteners, because they don’t even get tested until November, and the results aren’t back until March. I was also told that every campus has at least one GT kindergarten class. What. The. Fuck. So how is it decided which students end up in that class if they aren’t considered GT until first or second grade (another bit of information that seemed to vary by whom I was talking to)? Yes, I asked. No, I didn’t get a straight answer.
But that was my afternoon today. My morning consisted of teaching Mini Furious a difficult life lesson. She has a handmade bowl that her Granny and Grandpa gave her for Christmas last year, a mate to one given to her cousin. It’s her favorite. This morning she was using it at the fridge to get crushed ice when I heard the sound I’ve been dreading since we moved into this house with its tiled kitchen floor. She held it together as she started saying, “Mommy, I broke my bowl” and then she said, “It’s my favorite.” and lost it to the tears. We talked about how sometimes we break or lose things that are important to us. And it’s okay to cry about them. I told her about the things i’ve lost and broken that were important to me. Then I picked up all the pieces that were big enough to be picked up, and I glued it back together. Unfortunately, there’s one small piece that itself splintered into quiet a few just shards, so it has a small hole at the bottom on one side. But it’s back together and she’s decided that she’ll use it for her toothbrush in her bathroom, so she can still see it every day. It’s not the first thing she’s broken by a long shot, but it’s the first one that she’s truly valued. It had to happen eventually, and it’s a good lesson about being careful with the things we care about, and that things that are broken can be fixed, but they’ll never be the same. There is that part of me, though, that wishes I had gotten up and gotten the ice for her instead of letting the inevitable happen.
I’m not sure why I’m still awake. Except I am sure. I want to take my mind off of everything, and keep it off, and the surest way for it to be on is for it to hit my pillow. Boston was terrible. Is terrible. I have to stop looking at the unconfirmed reports coming tonight. Of all the cities, who knew it would be Boston to go up? Its roots are in revolution, yes… but now? And the news outlets playing a deadly game of telephone. Suspects are brown or black with an accent. What sort of accent? It doesn’t matter. So long as their skin is dark and they sound different. It’s not safe to fail the paper bag test, to sound anything but perfect unadorned American. Throw in the explosion in Texas, flooding in Chicago, and riots in Venezuela… there’s entirely too much and I wonder what is next.
So tonight I’ve listened to/half-watched a Dylan Moran stand up special, and Christopher and His Kind on YouTube. I recommend both. Matt Smith is in the second, and it’s a bit distracting. Quite a few of his mannerisms are so Eleven, and there are a couple of remarks about his character never aging.
I ought to go to bed. I have an appointment in the morning. But I’m not tired enough to fall asleep the moment my head hits the pillow, and I’m not sure I can take that.
I’m sort of bored. Mini Furious is playing games on Nick Jr. until her bedtime in 20 minutes. The husband has been at school most of the afternoon/all evening due to studying for comps/writing cues/going to rehersal. Conveniently, he’ll be home just after MIni is in bed. And so I figured perhaps I would post something, since I haven’t in a while.
In derby news, we held our first home bout ever. We needed to sell 400 tickets to break even. We pre-sold 600, and so expected maybe 800 people, and were ecstatic about that. We wound up selling 1600 tickets. It was the largest walk-up crowd the civic center has seen for anything ever. We started the bout 10 minutes late just to give the box office a chance to get through the line. The very, very long line. It was so amazing. We NSOs didn’t quite have it together right at the beginning, but we got there. One of our skaters fell and broke her ankle about midway through the first half. We all took a knee while the EMTs checked her out, and my heart just dropped when I saw one of them call for the body board. She’s had surgery and is on the mend. She’ll be back on the track and kicking butt in no time. Well, next season anyway.
I’ve wussed out on freshmeat. I have a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that my lungs are utter crap anymore. The slightest exertion sets off my wheezing. We’re leaving in July. I’m out of town for the last two weeks of it. But it all comes down to I am a wuss and we have had a LOT of injuries lately and I live on the second floor and the idea of stairs and crutches is so not my thing. So I’m an NSO, and I guess I’m okay with it. I like NSOing. I’m good at it. I am not good at skating. Coordination is not my strong suit, and I can manage being up on skates, but I’m not sure I’d ever pass the skills test. A lot of it just seems like magic to me. Like… you can make your body do that? Witchcraft.
I’ve been lousy about making it to bellydance. I freaking love it, and just can’t make it happen lately. Again with the breathing, for one thing. We’ve got a recital in June and I am just sitting here going… oh I am not ready. The dances have all flown out of my head. Walking hip circles are still my worst enemy. But I am going to suck it up and make it work. I’m not failing at dance the way I have at skating. (And right now fresh meat is at the same time as dance, which is my other totally valid reason for not doing fresh meat.)
Beyond all of that, it’s job hunting season for the academics of the world. No clue when I’ll find out about anything I’ve applied for. Our lease is up at the end of July. So basically if we get to that point and haven’t heard anything… I have no clue. Part of me wants to say screw it and pick a city. But the responsible part of me says that moving is expensive and that is definitely not the way to go. But I can’t do another Minnesota winter. Can’t. Shan’t. Won’t. For frak’s sake, we’re still doing this year’s winter! Not again. Never again.
Oh look bed time.
I’m not super great at blogging regularly. That’s something I’d like to get better at. I was sick, then I was in Texas, then I was sick again, then we were in New Mexico, and then we were back and things have been, as always, nuts.
The latest is that the spring semester has started up. Thankfully, it’s Mr. Furious’s last. We’ll be on the job market… now. We’re on the job market now. We’ve found openings for both of us at a school in a place we’d like to be. That’s just like magic. So we’re applying and keeping our fingers crossed. The hardest thing, for me, won’t be leaving Minnesota, not by a long shot. But leaving the league? That is painful. Making friends here has been pretty rough, and now I suddenly have this group of amazing women (and some dudes) and leaving them is just not something I want to even think about.
Mini Furious has started junior roller derby. She’s four (and a half now), so it’s pretty junior. Her first practice was this week, and she had fun. There was much falling, but she got up every single time. Her two mantras are “Be Derby Tough” and “Derby Girls don’t give up.” I’m so proud I could burst.
Of course, I have given up, to an extent. I haven’t been skating. I feel lousy about it, but I haven’t been. I’m so far behind everyone I just feel like I’m taking up space. Right now, my attention is more on administrative stuff and NSOing. Which are totally valid and useful things for the league… but they aren’t skating. I feel like calling myself a derby girl is a lie.
Oh look how I fell off the face of Tumblr. So that bronchitis? Turned into pnuemonia, and that was hell while it lasted. And because the fun never stops, just, JUST, the same week my cough was finally dying down, I caught something else. I can’t tell if whatever this is is dying down or morphing into something else. Oh and Mr. Furious is sick, too. At least Mini-Furious was only sick for about three days. That kid seriously has some kind of healing factor.
I’ve missed derby. I’ve missed bellydance. I’m only taking one dance class this session because I’m afraid more than one will just take all of my energy. Work has totally fallen by the wayside, and it would be a shocking turn of events if I get offered a contract for next term. My co-editor even mentioned pushing our upcoming issue back a week or so if I need more time for edits. No. No. No. NO. I’m going to haul my sneezing plague riddled body out to skate this weekend. I’m not missing another dance class. Work… okay there’s nothing I can do there but not let the term end in any more flames than it’s supposed to. And we are going to press on time, dammit. And then I might die.
Mini-Furious starts her classes this week: swim and gymnastics. She is high energy and sort of accident prone. Gymnastics will either help with this or she will break something. Time will tell. She is extremely cautious until she realizes that something will not kill her. Then it’s common sense out the window and give it her all. She says she wants to do roller derby when she gets bigger. If it weren’t for the padding we wear, this would be terrifying. Instead, it’s moderately scary.
Fucking ninja bronchitis came out of nowhere and knocked me for a loop. I had a sore throat, and a hell of tension headache. But I made it through our fundraiser last weekend. Was it only last weekend? The weekend before? What day is it now? But once our (incredibly amazingly successful) fundraiser was done, so was I. Breathing was a no go. I was coughing like crazy. My lungs were making a most horrid crackling noise. Finally, Mr. Furious forced me to urgent care. Since I felt on the verge of an asthma attack for about two days straight, it wasn’t much of a fight. I’ve got an inhaler, and I just finished the course of steroids. Everything seems to be getting better, but so slowly it’s painful. My lungs aren’t crackling anymore, but if I so much as bend over, it’s coughing fit. Going up and down the stairs today was just terrible. The coughing is ridiculous. One fit was so bad, it made my csection scar hurt. I’m thinking if I’m not 100% next week, I may follow up with my doctor. At least it wasn’t whooping cough, because apparently that shit is making the rounds.
Mini-Furious went to a bellydance class with me yesterday. She really dug it, but I would have been on my ass if it hadn’t been so low key.
The worst bit is how antsy this has left me feeling. Physical therapy for my knees? Coughing fit. Slowed down run through of bellydance routine? Coughing fit. Thinking about derby straight up makes my lungs hurt. I am so frustrated. I’m starting from behind to begin with. I may be healthy, but I am not strong. Getting knocked on my ass for two weeks? Is putting me even further behind. I’m scared I will never catch up. I’m scared I don’t have the drive. But I want to move. I want to skate. I want to be out there cheering my heart out for my team, even if I don’t pass my minimum skills. I will head up a posse of jeerleaders if I have to, but I will be out there and I will be a part of this.